Exercise Benefits for People with CF

Meg DeLano, M.D., CFRI Medical Advisor and Volunteer Clinical Professor Stanford University School of Medicine

Fall 1997

Dr. DeLano stressed the importance of regular exercise for people with cystic fibrosis. Physically fit CF patients live longer than those who are not fit. Children with CF should be encouraged to be active from a very young age, and that active lifestyle should be maintained throughout their lives.

She noted the following benefits of exercise: a strengthening of the immune system against respiratory infections for all family members, reduction of susceptibility to depression and improvement in ability to cope with stress for the family as well as the CF individual, decrease in the risk of osteoporosis and fracture for young adults with CF and for normal older adults, promotion of gastrointestinal motility decreasing the risk of colon cancer for normal adults and the risk of intestinal obstruction with CF.

Each participant in the room (the majority of whom were caregivers, relatives or friends of people with cystic fibrosis) was asked to share their exercise regimen. It was apparent that younger kids like to work out with their families and teens like to do what their friends are doing. Dr. DeLano pointed out that if all members of the family have good exercise habits, then people with cystic fibrosis were more likely to adopt and maintain good exercise plans. Exercise should be fun. So consider such sports as rollerblading, tennis, dancing, swimming, bicycling, hiking, and trampoline jumping.

Finally, people with CF lose more salt and drink less fluids when they exercise. Studies show they do not feel as thirsty as they should when their bodies are losing fluids. So, if you have CF and are working out, it is important to drink copious quantities of water, even when you do not feel thirsty. Also, give yourself some salty snacks to replenish the lost salt after the workout.

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